Cakes Glorious Cakes!

Cakes

Cake......

Did anyone watch BBC Two’s Great British Bake-off?   We ADORED this series….scrumptious recipes on their website.  Sadly, here at Katy Potts, we’re rather better at eating cakes than actually baking them.  Generally speaking we like to leave that to the experts, but when we do feel like giving it a whirl, we turn to  lovely Delia.  Here’s a very helpful video  (going back somewhat by the looks of things!) on the simple sponge!

Do you know any simple cake recipes?  Please send them in!!  x

Today, I used this tea set

Feeling a bit 1940s post-war years-duck egg blue, today.

Come on Spring.

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A bit spring'ish today.

Today, I used this tea set

Today, I used this tea set.

Feeling slightly spring’ish.    Very optimisticly….

I wonder if Lady Gaga would like these tea cups?

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Around the World in 80 Tea Rooms No. 3 The Ritz Hotel, London

No self respecting guide to tea rooms or afternoon tea could really be complete without The Ritz.  Designed by architects Charles Mewès and Arthur Davis,  It opened in May 1906, and its roll call is rather impressive… Charlie Chaplin (who needed 40 policemen to escort him through an army of fans), Anna Pavlova, the Aga Khan, Paul Getty, Tallulah Bankhead (who famously sipped Champagne from her slipper during a press conference in the 50′s), Sir Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle (who used the hotel for summit meetings during the 2nd World War), Judy Garland, Evelyn Waugh & Noel Coward.

Like its french counterpart- The Ritz Paris, the interior (including the Palm Court – above – where afternoon tea is served) was designed throughout in a neo classical style of Louis XV1 .

Royals (for whom there was a special bell to warn staff of their arrival) included, King Edward VII, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and King Alfonso of Spain and Queen Amelie of Portugal who met at the hotel.

The hotel was immortalised by Irving Berlin’s song ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ – Most famously sung by Fred Astaire,- however check out these other versions – including a very young Michael Jackson (late teens maybe?) with sister La Toya, Judy Garland, Gene Wilder & Teri Garr Clarke Gabel, Rufus Wainright and  my fave version with cool animation.

THE MENU

As you would expect – an array of traditional English sandwiches and scones.

  • Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
  • Ham Sandwiches
  • Chicken Sandwiches
  • Cucumber Sandwiches
  • Mature Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches
  • Egg Mayonnaise Bridge Roll
  • Freshly Baked Raisin and Apple Scones with Cornish Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve
  • Assortment of Afternoon Tea Pastries
  • Ritz Chocolate Cake

The Ritz London,  150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7493 8181,

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Confeitaria Colombo, Rio de Jainero

The Russian Tea Rooms, New York.

The ‘So Much Nicer’ guide to taking tea.

Lately I’ve been reading quite a few rules on how to make the perfect cup of tea.    I was ecstatic to find an essay by George Orwell simply entitled ‘A Nice cup of Tea’.  Though many of his rules have been refuted by the Royal Society of Chemistry – especially on the question of whether milk should be added before or after the tea (after – in my view).   It has prompted me to make a few observations of my own.

Many guides to tea have concentrated solely on optimising the taste of the tea itself.  Important? Of course – without question!  But is that everything?  I mean, what if one doesn’t have access to fresh spring water from the remote highlands of Outer Mongolia?  What then?  Is all lost?  I think not!  The following series of guidelines are simply about how to make having tea ‘So Much Nicer’.   They are about comfort as well as taste as well as aesthetics.

So…….without any further ado… The ‘So Much Nicer’ guide to taking tea.

Observations 1 & 2: Thickness of Cup & the Hot Water Jug

Thickness of cup (or mug….if you absolutely must)                                                              Whether one chooses a cup or a mug (personally I prefer a cup…though I don’t necessarily use a saucer when I’m on my own) what is paramount to the ‘so much nicer’ cup of tea is the thickness.   I would recommend no more than 1-2mm.  The first thing you will notice is how much better if feels on the mouth.  Anything thick or chunky just isn’t right.  It’s wrong.   Quite wrong.   Orally cumbersome.  Oafish.    Like trying to tie shoe laces with your gloves on.   It puts an unnecessary barrier between you and the tea.    Also, the thinner the china the quicker it conducts heat.  Therefore the whole cup heats up as soon as the tea is poured; it’s as if everything is immediately as one.  Spiritual…..kind of.

The hot water jug.

Tea must always be piping hot.  I’m convinced it aids concentration if one is ‘tea-ing’ whilst working.    Also, is there is anything more offensive than tepid tea?   Not quite as bad if drinking green tea – but perfectly rancid if one takes milk.    And so, one of the essentials to making tea So Much Nicer, is the hot water jug.

1930s hot water jug.

After the first cup the teapot will have cooled down.  Tea cosies are of course very helpful in this respect, as is warming the pot before making the tea – however neither counteract the fact that and the tea will most likely have started to stew.   Topping it up with hot water gives the flagging tea just the boost it needs, and at least another 2 enjoyable cups can be had.

Going back to the 20’s & 30’s, a proper tea service would always have been sold with these jugs.  Tea aside, I adore them anyway – from a design point of view – and they also make rather cute vases.

Now, though this may seem like an extra ‘faff’, it is in fact the lazy person’s way of taking tea.   A little effort up front will mean no running back and forth from the kettle to get that second cup.  Especially, God forbid,  if the kettle is more than an arm’s length away, for example in a different room  and involves actually getting up off one’s seat to put it on.  Very tiresome if one happens to be watching ones favourite television programme at the time….

If you don’t possess a hot water jug, just another, smaller teapot or coffee pot will do.

Other topics soon to be covered in the So Much Nicer Guide to Taking Tea will include:    Shape of cup,  type of tea,  milk?, trays, caddies, Afternoon Tea: etiquette & menu.   Please feel very free to add your comments, suggest tips or new topics.

Today, I’m using this tea set

Feeling rather blue’y, 1930s’ish today.


Today, I used this tea set

I was feeling a bit orangey, and a bit art deco’ey today.